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I've been musing about how wide a net is cast with "art" and what, under that net, is the meaning of "success". And else-web, I was prodded to think in a little more detail about that (by someone who will currently remain un-linked, because I can't remember if he connects his lj account with his other-online-selves.)

This was inspired by this book I'm reading about invented languages. From Klingon to Esperanto to Loglan, the author says they're all failures.

Some of the languages she describes sound just like art to me. ("Solresol," in particular, which is made up of exactly seven morphemes and can be sung or painted as well as spoken.) And as far as I can tell, the author hasn't really defined "failure" in terms of a language, other than to imply it means the language is no longer spoken. Which led me to think about defining goals for endeavors, which is a topic I find myself returning to regularly.

Is a webcomic a success only when it gets enough revenue to support the artist? Is my career a success only when I'm mentioned in the Wall Street Journal? Is my art successful only when I'm hung at a museum? (all real examples, either in my goals, my friends goals, or discussions in which something is labelled a success.)

And if the answer is, well, all those goals are over-reaching, and success can be something lesser-than-that, is goal-defining the only real meter?

I think I must answer, for that last question, no. For two reasons.

The first reason is personal. Meeting self-defined goals can't be the answer to success-in-general, at least not for me. Because I'm not the kind of person who sets goals that way. My goal is to better my current personal best. That's always my goal, and it is, by definition, unachievable. It has been noted that this means I can never do less than what I consider my personal best without falling into the "not successful at personal goal" category, and, well, can't argue that.

The second reason is all about what I consider to be the failure of art -- not failure in general, but the places where we fail spectacularly and try to pretend we don't. It's not enough for me as an artist to say "I make this art to shock" and then consider myself successful when people are shocked. That's not art; that's attention-seeking.

So, I've come around the long way (honest!) to the beginning of this post. If a language can be considered a successful work of art (even as it's considered a failure as a language), then what does that tell me about my definition of succesful art? Well, I haven't unpacked all the steps, but at the end of the path that question started, I came up with my answer:

Art communicates. It communicates with nuance, with power, and on multiple levels. Or else it fails.
sev: (Default)
Sometimes, color is just good for my soul. I can't knock the subtlety and power of a fine charcoal portrait -- not when I've been aspiring to that craft myself -- but sometimes there's a void that only color can fill.

Today I committed Low-Water Immersion Dyeing, ala Ann Johnston's Color By Accident. I didn't do much in the way of actually following her instructions, but I did burn through half the tie-dye cords I've had sitting around and used up all seven white t-shirts in the "do something with or get rid of these" pile. I know the color will dull once the fabric dries, but ... yum! So much color!

(photos pending, once they're washed and dried. They'll be less colorful, then, but it's better if no-one remembers how vivid they were when they first came out of the dyebath. Next time I'll be using higher-quality dyes, but this was good enough, for a project made up entirely of "stuff I happened to have on-hand.")

ETA: Posted photos


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